A DEPLORABLE display from the spectators at Saturday’s Group 2 opener between the Nambucca Roosters and Grafton Ghosts has left a bitter taste in the mouths of many of the code's fans.
And while some lay blame purely on the first grade Roosters players, many who were witness to the events that unfolded would disagree.
Racist taunts and derogatory comments towards players wearing the red, white and blue strip – which included insults about players' family members – were allegedly thrown from several Ghosts supporters.
It’s alleged that as a result of the taunts, players ran from the field into the crowd and began verbally abusing and even threatening physical abuse, which the red, white and blue club say is completely untrue and has been exaggerated.
“Everything that happened is just disgraceful. I was on the field and from a player’s point of view, I know I was copping it about two minutes into the game, let alone anything else,” captain Matt Field told the Guardian.
“I’m not holding it against them, that's football – our crowd gets stuck into people all the time as well, but when you bring race or family members names into it, that’s crossing a whole new line.
“From a player, a spectator and someone who loves the game ... you just don’t do that in or outside of football.”
And while there was plenty of action following the game, the 80-minute encounter was a less than desirable affair with the Ghosts running out winners 54-20.
“It was a let down from how hard we’ve trained for the past six months and the effort we put in for the amount of players we got,” Matt said. “But the effort out of those blokes (who turned up) was unbelievable.
“They (Grafton) scored a quick 12 points but we countered back and went into halftime 18-12.
“We came out firing in the second - stuck it with them for first 20 minutes. Then the last 20 we just died from lack of numbers. We had a three-man bench, and had four under 18s back up for us .. which was a massive effort from them.
“During training this week, we had a pretty stern talk which was a bit of an eye opener for the boys to let them know where we're at. But we got into a decent fitness session – from now we're just going to hit the ground running and improve on what we've been doing all year.
“Just doing the one-percenters better – working on the little things, pushing that extra metre, diving on that ball, making that one extra tackle.
“It’s good to know now that everyone is on the exact same page and now we're going to shift our focus to Saturday's first home game.”
The under 18s game was a similar story with the Ghosts taking the two points in their 32-10 win.
Coach Darren Campbell said he’s not going to let the result dampen the team’s morale.
“They didn’t play terrific, but it was the first game … there's promise there,” he said.
“We don’t get another game for three weeks, which makes it hard, but I'm excited about the promise the team has got.”
The Roosters take on the Orara Valley Axemen in three grades on Saturday at Coronation Park with the women’s league tag side having their first hit out from 3pm. Reserves and first grade to follow.